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UniFrance Rendez-Vous Packed With French Comedies, Biopics, Docs

Kicking off on Jan. 17 with the world premiere of Philippe de Chauveron’s “Serial Bad Weddings 2,” the 21st edition of the UniFrance Rendez-Vous in Paris will showcase a flurry of French comedies, biopics and a raft of documentaries.

The Rendez-Vous in Paris, organized by the promotion org UniFrance, will take place over five days and will bring together 481 buyers from 56 countries, as well as 45 French sales companies.

Besides “Serial Bad Weddings 2,” the sequel of the smash hit film which grossed over $148 million, the anticipated comedy highlights set to have their market premieres at the Rendez-Vous include Hugo Gelin’s “Love at Second Sight,” Philippe Lacheau’s “City Hunter,” Eric Lavaine’s “No Filter,” Lisa Azuelos’s “Sweetheart,” Louis-Julien Petit’s “Invisibles” and Bertrand Blier’s “Heavy Duty.”

Sold by Studiocanal, “Love at Second Sight” is a romantic comedy which marks Gelin’s follow-up to the Omar Sy starrer “Two is a Family.”

A French spinoff of the hit 1980s Japanese manga, “City Hunter” is the latest comedy co-written and directed by Lacheau whose credits include the hit comedy franchise, “Babysitting,” and “Alibi.com.” The movie is sold by Orange Studio (which also represents “Serial Bad Weddings 2”).

“No Filter,” sold by Gaumont, is a comedy-drama starring Alexandra Lamy (“No Second Chance”) and José Garcia, and based on Barbara Halary-Lafond’s novel.

“Sweetheart” centers on a loving mother thrown into an existential crisis as her youngest daughter is about to leave the nest to study abroad. Pathe represents the film in international markets. Azuelos previously directed “Dalida,” a biopic of the Cairo-born acclaimed singer “Dalida.”

“Invisibles,” sold by Charades,” follows social workers on a mission to help women from a closing homeless shelter find work. Based on a true story, “Invisibles” opened this week in French theaters and has been highly successful.

“Heavy Duty,” starring Gérard Depardieu, Christian Clavier and Alex Lutz, is sold by Orange Studio and will have it world premiere at the market.

“The Rendez-Vous is always a popular showcase for comedies because buyers are on the lookout for commercial films unlike at festivals like Berlin or Cannes,” said Gilles Renouard, the co-managing director of UniFrance.

Over the last few years, a number of French hit comedies such as “Heartbreaker” where introduced during the Rendez-Vous.

Renouard pointed out this year’s lineup was particularly strong with high-concept comedies from big groups such as Gaumont, Pathe, Studiocanal and Orange Studio, as well as promising titles from outfits like Charades and Other Angle.

Beyond comedies, the Rendez-Vous will also roll out a wide range of unusual biopics, notably Alexis Michalik’s “Edmond,” an adaptation of a popular play about Edmond Rostand, the 19th century playwright behind “Cyrano de Bergerac (sold by Gaumont);” Jean-François Richet’s “The Emperor of Paris,” starring Vincent Cassel as Francois Vidocq, a real-life ex-convict who became a police detective during Napoleon’s reign (sold by Gaumont); Benoit Jacquot’s “Casanova, Last Love” starring Vincent Lindon as Giacomo Casanova, the famed Italian libertine, adventurer and author (sold by Elle Driver); and Lou Jeunet’s “Curiosa,” about the steamy affair between the French poets Pierre Louÿs and Marie de Régnier (sold by Memento).

Anticipated documentaries set for market premieres include Jacques Deschamps’s “The Grand Hotel Ballet,” a music-filled docu about young people studying to become chefs at the renowned hotel school in the French Alps (sold by Jour2Fête); Nanni Moretti’s “Santiago, Italia,” about the chaotic aftermath of the military coup led by General Pinochet in Santiago, leading to the asylum of thousands of refugees in Italy (sold by Le Pacte); Guillaume Maidatchevsky’s “Ailo’s Journey,” a lavishly-lensed docu following the odyssey of a newborn reindeer through a one-year-long migration.

“Feature documentaries have been popular for some time because it’s a genre that can be produced with reasonable budgets and it works well in international markets,” said Renouard.

Among the 481 buyers expected to attend the Rendez-Vous are executives from some of the biggest companies in Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Canada; and well as execs from streaming services such as Netflix and Mubi. Newcomers include buyers from Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. For the first time, UniFrance will also be welcoming buyers from Southeast Asia.

On top of screenings and sales meetings, the UniFrance Rendez-Vous will also host a panel discussing blockchain on the market’s closing day, Jan. 21.

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